If you’re living with hypothyroidism, a doctor will usually recommend anti-inflammatory eating plans, such as the Mediterranean diet. The keto diet is not typically recommended.

Hypothyroidism develops when your thyroid gland can no longer produce enough thyroid hormones to support your metabolism and other routine body functions. Hormone replacement medications are prescribed to help ease symptoms of this condition.

You may be curious whether following a certain diet might help hypothyroidism. Since an underactive thyroid gland can also slow down your metabolism, some people may also be curious whether certain diets may help support weight loss.

The ketogenic (keto) diet is one such diet that promises weight loss due to restrictions on carbohydrates and an emphasis on fats. A small 2022 study suggests that people with thyroid disease may lose weight while following the keto diet in the short term.

However, the keto diet isn’t typically recommended for hypothyroidism as any potential benefits haven’t been well established. Furthermore, it may increase your risk of heart disease and digestive issues.

Learn what eating patterns you might consider for hypothyroidism instead of the keto diet.

There isn’t a hypothyroidism diet per se, but certain eating styles may help support your overall thyroid health. One 2022 research review indicated that anti-inflammatory eating plans may have a positive effect on hypothyroidism.

A few notable examples include the Mediterranean diet as well as different types of plant-based diets.

The Mediterranean diet is an eating pattern that consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, as well as healthy fats, legumes, and occasional meats. Due to its inherent antioxidant-rich foods, it’s also commonly prescribed for thyroid diseases like Hashimoto thyroiditis.

Foods included in the Mediterranean diet are also natural sources of important micronutrients that can support thyroid health. These include:

Are plant-based and vegan diets recommended for hypothyroidism?

Plant-based diets may also support hypothyroidism. These diets can still include meat, but meat is not the primary focus of your meals.

According to one 2020 research review, people who follow vegan diets, for example, have less inflammation and are better able to maintain a moderate weight. The authors also noted that veganism may help prevent autoimmune thyroid diseases.

Plant-forward eating can also come in the form of a flexitarian eating pattern, which is mostly vegetarian (includes dairy products and eggs), but it allows for occasional meat.

Also, eating patterns that focus on consuming lots of plant-based foods may help with blood cholesterol. While this is important for everyone, it may also help address high cholesterol caused by hypothyroidism.

Aside from the possible benefits of following specific eating patterns for thyroid health, it’s thought that eating (and avoiding) certain foods may complement your treatment by regulating your hormones.

In terms of what to add to your diet, you may first consider some of the foods eaten as part of a Mediterranean or plant-based lifestyle. Examples include:

  • fresh vegetables
  • fruits instead of sugary sweets
  • fish, chicken, and turkey
  • healthy fats, such as avocados and olive oil
  • whole grains, such as oats and brown rice
  • beans, nuts, and legumes

People with hypothyroidism may need to be cautious with excess amounts of iodine. The mineral can be found in supplements, as well as certain seaweed and kelp.

Iodine may disrupt thyroid hormones, especially in autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto thyroiditis.

A doctor may also recommend that you limit:

  • sugars
  • processed foods
  • caffeine
  • alcohol

Additionally, the American Heart Association says that eating less meat and more plant-based foods can decrease your risk of developing other chronic illnesses. Examples include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Also, while some research suggests that reducing gluten may reduce inflammation in some people with hypothyroidism, there’s not enough evidence to suggest that this could help with thyroid disease.

It’s important to talk with a doctor before trying any particular diet for hypothyroidism. You may also wish to discuss the following topics with them:

Can you reverse hypothyroidism with diet?

In most cases, hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition that cannot be reversed with diet. Eating and avoiding certain foods may support your thyroid health, but you will still need ongoing treatment and regular blood tests to ensure your body is getting the appropriate amount of thyroid hormones.

What is the thyroid belly?

“Thyroid belly” is another name for “hormone belly,” which describes excess abdominal fat attributed to hormone problems. The American Thyroid Association (ATA) reports that most people with hypothyroidism gain an average of 5 to 10 pounds, which may be reversible with treatment and a health-promoting lifestyle.

What’s the best time of day to take thyroid replacement medication?

For most people, according to the ATA, it’s best to take thyroid replacement medications in the morning before breakfast. This way, your body has a chance to absorb the hormones before food, supplements, and other medications may interfere with this process.

Are there specific foods to avoid before/after taking thyroid replacement medication?

The British Thyroid Foundation reports that for thyroid hormone replacements to be the most effective, you should take them at least 30 minutes before eating a meal. You’ll also want to avoid eating soy and grapefruit within a few hours of taking your medications, as these may decrease thyroxine (thyroid hormone) absorption.

Whether you’re wanting to change your eating pattern for weight management or for overall health, it’s important to not focus on restrictive diets that may promise quick results. The keto diet is one such plan that does not support hypothyroidism.

Instead, a doctor may recommend an eating plan that focuses on more plant-based foods, including a Mediterranean or plant-based diet. These will not only benefit your thyroid but will also help protect your heart, brain, and gut.

Eating more plant-based foods can support thyroid health. However, it’s also equally important to make sure you’re following your thyroid treatment plan.

Consider talking with a doctor if you’re concerned about your treatment or if you’re experiencing any new symptoms.